was a radical, nonviolent revolutionary who hung around with lepers, hookers, and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, and anti-public prayer (M 6:5).
But was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a co-pay.
AND, was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming, Middle-Eastern Jew.“
For those of you who don’t know already, my mom passed away suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this month. I’m not going to try to sum up what my mom means to me in a single post – I’m sure I’ll be talking about her a lot from here on out – but I wanted to start by sharing this video.
My sister and I went back to LA to help my dad sort through my mom’s things, including the extensive archives of family photos she had filed away in boxes and on her computer. To our complete surprise, we stumbled across a video none of us had ever seen before: a simple iPhone video of mom, playing her ukulele, and singing “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars directly into the camera.
It turns out she recorded it for my aunt Jenny last July, and just never ended up sending it to her; it was like mom had decided to leave us a perfect little time capsule of herself to reassure the rest of us that we’re gonna get through all of this. If you want to know who my mom is, who she’ll always be to me, this just about sums it up: playing the ukulele, laughing, and talking about how she’ll drop anything and everything to be there for someone.
When Em and I were designing the program for the memorial service this past weekend, I decided I wanted to try and capture this moment. Likenesses aren’t exactly my strong suit, but this was important to me, and I’ve rarely been so proud as when this piece finally came together:
Again, it’s not worth trying to sum up how much my mom means to me in one post. I don’t want to treat this as the end of something – it’s just the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship. Suffice to say Em and I blessed to have ended up with such an adventurous, funny, selfless, loving mom; I can’t fathom what exactly we’re going to do without her, but she left us a lot to work with. I have no doubt we’re going to figure it out.
I know not everyone has a great relationship with their parents, but one thing I loved about my mom was her expansive concept of family: it’s not about blood or literal family ties, it’s about the people you choose to welcome into your life. The people worth fighting for. The people who are there to love and be loved, to comfort and be comforted, to support and be supported. That’s what family is, and I hope like hell that I’ll end up with an extended family as big as my mom’s.